Since the COVID-19 Crisis began, and based on the input we received from you about challenges you are facing, TLTA has been working with TDI to relax requirements in several key areas. Below you will find several important bulletins and announcements. As we receive additional guidance from TDI, we will keep you informed.
Important Licensing Information for Escrow Officers and Title Agents; Special COVID-19 and General Escrow Officer Licensing Information You Need to Knows
(Jan. 4, 2021)
The Texas Department of Insurance issued an important notice
last week with key reminders about licensing compliance for escrow officers and agents. The information included in TDI's notice is also listed below:
Escrow officers can now use Sircon to renew
for a license. Paper application and renewal forms will not be accepted after March 1.
Due to COVID-19:
- TDI is accepting applications without a notary signature.
- Title agents and escrow officers have an additional 90 days to renew their licenses and submit continuing education credits.
Before a licensed escrow officer can operate, they must be appointed by a title agent / direct operation. They can use the Escrow officer appointment form (FINT09)
Title agents / direct operations must keep their escrow officer appointments up to date. They must add or remove appointments by using the Escrow officer appointment form (FINT09)
Escrow officers and title agents / direct operations, must notify TDI within 30 days of changes to their contact information, such as their email, legal name, business name, or address:
To learn more about license requirements, visit the TDI website. If you have questions, email TDI-TitleLicensing@tdi.texas.gov.
TDI Extends Modified Requirements for Sworn Statements
(Dec. 18, 2020)
The Texas Department of Insurance will allow filings to be submitted without sworn statements, affidavits, and notarizations through March 31, 2021. View the modified filings chart
for a complete list of temporary changes due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
TDI Grants Request for Extension of Modified Requirements for Sworn Statements
(Sept. 30, 2020)
On Wednesday, Sept. 30, TDI announced that the window of time during which the financial and licensing filings identified in the modified filings chart
could be submitted without sworn statements, affidavits and notarization was further extended from Sept. 30 to Dec. 31.
Title Agent / Escrow Officer: Annual Audit of Trust Fund Accounts, Forms
Review the filings that can be submitted without sworn statements, affidavits and notarizations. If you have questions about title agent and escrow officer licensing filings, please email TDI-TitleLicensing@tdi.texas.gov
Corporate and Financial Filing Requirements
Review the filings that can be submitted without sworn statements, affidavits and notarizations. If you have questions about financial filing requirements, please email FIN-GM@tdi.texas.gov
TDI Issues Bulletin on Temporary and Limited Extension of Simultaneous Issue Credit Under R-5.F
(May 21, 2020)
The Texas Department of Insurance has issued a bulletin with guidance on the use of the simultaneous issue premium during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the guidance issued today, TDI will not cite title agents and title insurance companies who charge the “simultaneous issuance” premium described in Rate Rule R-5.F for Loan Policies issued more than 90 days after the Owner’s Policy if the following conditions are met:
- All parties, including the title agent and title insurance company, agree to the Rate Rule R-5.F premium;
- the owner’s policy is dated between December 14, 2019, and April 2, 2020;
- the loan policy is issued no later than 60 days after the 90-day deadline in paragraph 1.a of Rate Rule R-5.F; and
- the requirements for Rate Rule R-5.F are otherwise met.
TDI provided the following explanation of the guidance issued today:
Governor Greg Abbott has issued a disaster declaration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted Texas business, and some title insurance consumers who bought an Owner’s Policy before the outbreak may not be able to get related loan funding and a Loan Policy as quickly as they planned. This delay would prevent them from receiving the 90-day simultaneous issue price allowed by Rate Rule R-5.F.
If you have questions, please email TitleExaminations@tdi.texas.gov..
Guidance on Electronic Signatures Issued
(March 27, 2020)
TDI has issued a bulletin with new guidance for the title industry on electronic signatures
for escrow checks and directly issued policies that require countersignatures by bona fide officers or employees of the title insurance company. In the bulletin published March 27, TDI notes that the Business and Commerce Code Chapter 322, also known as the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), provides that:
- Documents may be signed using an electronic signature
- An electronic record complying with the UETA satisfies a law requiring a person to retain that record for an audit or similar purpose
If a title agent or company executes documents, including checks, with electronic signatures, the agent must be able to show the electronically signed documents were signed by only those legally authorized to do so. This may be demonstrated through an audit of their electronic records and security procedures.
Electronic signatures for escrow checks
The Minimum Escrow Accounting Procedures and Internal Controls in Section V of the Basic Manual require two signatures on all escrow checks unless the title agent has four or fewer employees.
If the standards and requirements of the UETA are met, escrow checks may be signed electronically. Checks signed electronically must have two signatures, and one of the signatures must be from an escrow officer.
Bulletin B-0011-20, which allows a single signature, does not apply to electronic signatures, except for offices with four or fewer employees.
Directly issued policies
If the standards and requirements of the UETA are met, electronic signatures on directly issued policies meet the Procedural Rule P-31 requirement for original signatures.
Escrow Requirements Modification Bulletin Issued
(March 25, 2020)
TDI has issued a Commissioner’s Bulletin that outlines several temporary escrow modifications that we hope will provide immediate relief to you. Please carefully read the full escrow requirements bulletin
and also see the modified filings chart
- Single Escrow Officer signature allowed on checks, Internal Control #5 will not be enforced
- Annual Escrow Audit Deadline extended 45 days and may submit electronically to TitleExaminations@tdi.texas.gov
- Signatures on sworn statements may be electronic without sworn statement, affidavit or notarization
Additionally, TDI is actively reviewing the potential use of electronic signatures on checks, but no decision has been made yet. TLTA will continue working with the Department on that issue.
Licensing, Continuing Education Requirements Temporarily Relaxed
(March 24, 2020)
Governor Greg Abbott has approved waiving certain licensing requirements
for insurance agents at the request of TDI. Please carefully read the full bulletin
for all details as well as the license requirements
March and April license renewals extended two months and late fees waived
- More time allowed to complete CE credit and CE fines waived
Underwriter Financial Filings Modified Filing Chart
(March 25, 2020)
TDI also issued a bulletin
and created a modified filings chart
with some extended deadlines for underwriter financial filings in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. Please review carefully to determine what is applicable.
Visit TDI’s coronavirus resource page
for past messages and guidance to the industry.